The past 60 days have stripped my family, my ministry and me of almost every pattern and practice established in my life over the past 37 years. Subtly, yet suddenly, a global pandemic called COVID-19 deconstructed normalcy and ushered in apocalyptic reality for us all.
I confess being stunned and amazed by this entire experience and yet, grateful to date I’ve not seen or experienced personal illness or loss as a direct result of this virus.
Yet, changes and challenges have been multiplied in these days, and I find myself repeatedly rehearsing this question: Could God be stirring the church by stripping the church?
I’m not suggesting I know or understand the will and way of God in these days. Like you, I’m seeking the Lord for wisdom, guidance and grace. But as I see events unfold, I wonder about the path of God’s hand and His plan in the adversity created by the coronavirus pandemic. Think about it…
1. We’ve been stripped of gatherings.
In previous days, church attendance was an optional priority for many people. But shelter-in-place mandates and the continued echo of social distancing have created a pause to consider the value of a church family and community. As a result, are we poised to recast and recapture the vision of biblical community found in the book of Hebrews?
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV).
2. We’ve been stripped of styles and systems.
Nearly three decades of worship gatherings and church meetings have been marked by endless debates and discord over music, schedules and church polity. The COVID-19 crisis has now moved us beyond the option of such divisions and debates, and has shifted our focus to the substance of our witness and worship through the Word. We cannot and we must not let our styles and systems create stumbling blocks for us if we are to do the work of ministry in transitional times.
3. We’ve been stripped of programs and resources.
With church programs and resources on lockdown, we’ve all had to return the focus of ministry to relationships. It’s funny how easy it is to be in the “people business” and yet, focus on business and busyness.
When our church recognized we would be separated and scattered for an undefined period of time, we immediately prioritized personal contacts with mature adults, vulnerable communities, children, students, families and volunteer leadership.
The interruption of gatherings and groupings in our buildings prompted us to go after people, and as a result, our focus shifted from programs and resources to personal relationships.
4. We’ve been stripped of schedules.
Through the years when initiating and planning ministry, I’ve always tried to let our strategy determine our schedule rather than letting our schedule determine our strategy and structure.
In these days, online church platforms for worship and life groups have given us opportunities to explore and develop new patterns along with the freedom to move beyond the unyielding structure of our established schedules. Are you battling preferences and listening to the whine of we’ve always done it this way? Now is the time to let your strategy determine your schedule.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David H. McKinley